Income Tax Department Officials surveyed the Noida house of media entrepreneur Raghav Bahl and the office of ‘The Quint’ of which he is a co-founder in connection with an alleged tax evasion case.
The officials told PTI that a team raided the residence of Bahl in Noida early in the morning and are looking for documents and other evidence related to the case under probe.
In a note to the Editor’s Guild Bahl tweeted,
I have a matter of great concern to share with the Guild. While I was in Mumbai this morning, dozens of IT officials descended on my residence and The Quint’s office for a “survey”. We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents. However, I have just spoken to the officer on my premises, one Mr Yadav, and requested him, strongly, to not try and pick up or see any other mail/document which is likely to contain very serious/sensitive journalistic material. If they do that, then we shall seek extremely strong recourse. I do hope the EG will back us on this, and thereby set a precedent for any such exercise that may happen on any other journalistic entity in the future. They should also not misuse their smartphones to take unauthorised copies of this material. I am now on my way back to Delhi.
While the raid, the IT officials were trying to clone data from Ritu Kapur’s (Founder and CEO- The Quint) gadgets revealed Poonam Agarwal.
IT officers are trying to clone data from @kapur_ritu's gadgets. When she screamed and asked me about the law of privacy and whether they can clone her journalistic and personal material, while I was standing outside her residence, two IT officers pulled her inside the house.
— Poonam Agarwal (@poonamjourno) October 11, 2018
IT department also went to The News Minute’s office in Bengaluru. According to the website, officers said that the visit was a ‘survey’ under Section 133a of the IT Act, and not a search or raid. “The officers asked for financial documents and audit books to be shown to them,” The News Minute reported.
“We are complying with the requests of the officers at our premises,” Dhanya Rajendran, editor-in-chief, The News Minute, was quoted as saying.
Congress has attacked the BJP government for using the CBI and ED to suppress freedom of speech and undermine the media.
— Congress (@INCIndia) October 11, 2018
Reactions on Social Media :
I.T raids on @TheQuint offices and its founder @Raghav_Bahl home are cause for serious concern. Taxman has the right to ask all questions, but raids look like intimidation. If there is justification, govt must explain quickly. Or it will be seen as targeting critical media.
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) October 11, 2018
There is “Jumla” in Income Tax Act- circumstantial evidence. Yes, the circumstantial evidence is @Raghav_Bahl @TheQuint’s independent and fearless journalism. That’s why IT search & survey @TheQuint. See our coverage and decide for yourself.
— Sanjay Pugalia (@sanjaypugalia) October 11, 2018
In absence of any convincing reason which we’ve not been told, tax raids on @Raghav_Bahl who is a fierce & sensible critic of @narendramodi govt can only be seen as harassment and intimidation. These tactics reminiscent of tin pot dictarotships not well functioning democracies. https://t.co/jm72ZyDs9F
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) October 11, 2018
After Pranoy Roy, now @Raghav_Bahl is targeted. Raghav is one of the most credible media personalities. Now he is paying the price for being anti-establishment, criticising Modi Govt.
— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) October 11, 2018
Founder of The Quint Raghav Bahl has said tax officials are raiding the offices of his media company & he has asked them to desist from confiscating hard discs or documents containing material for publishing purpose.Raghav has said his company is totally tax compliant.
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) October 11, 2018
No doubt that Quint & Raghav Bahl are being raided by the IT Dept only because they have been critical of the govt & in order to intimidate the media. IT, ED & CBI are being misused by this govt like never before https://t.co/S8OteLrpdU
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 11, 2018